June 17, 2019

A Guide to California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (CHSU COM) Secondary Essays

Are you a Central Valley or California resident who’s dedicated to the underserved and looking for a local osteopathic school for your list?

Well, we’ve got some good news for you. There’s a new osteopathic medical school, and it’s the first program of its kind in the Central Valley.

California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine, or CHSU COM, has started taking AACOMAS applications for its inaugural class in 2020.

Aligned with the overall CHSU mission, the new school hopes to recruit, train, and retain DO physicians to aid the underserved population in the Valley.

According to the school’s About Us page, the school has taken important steps towards accreditation:

The university has initiated the accreditation process with the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), the only accrediting agency for pre-doctoral osteopathic medical education recognized by the United States Department of Education.”

In case you’re wondering, we’ve never seen a school fail to receive accreditation over the last 15 years. If the size of CHSU COM’s first class has been determined, it hasn’t been made public on the website.

Since the school is new, there’s limited information available, but this guide will distill down all the important facts you’ll need to know when writing your CHSU COM secondaries.


  • Commitment to improved outcomes for the Central Valley’s underserved
  • Curious, adaptive, and forward-thinking leaders
  • A desire to teach, research, and innovate in disciplines related to osteopathy


  1. Simulation Center
  2. New Campus Updates
  3. Team Based Learning (TBL) Environment
  4. California Health Sciences University Scholarship Fund
  5. Teaching Kitchen for Nutrition and Augmented Reality Holographic Anatomy


Odds are, with the exception of locational ties for some, you probably meet the school’s criteria, but it’s worth taking a closer look to inform your secondary essays:

  • A demonstrated commitment to health care as evidenced by volunteer or employment in a health care setting
  • A demonstrated commitment to or understanding of the osteopathic medical profession (e.g. shadowing one or more osteopathic physician)
  • Service to the community (e.g. volunteer humanitarian/altruistic works)
  • A determination to learn the continued advancements in biomedical sciences through research and other scholarly activities


Although not a secondary, CHSU COM requires an additional essay beyond the normal AACOMAS submission:


Please explain any gaps in education or employment longer than holidays and semester breaks.

We’ve written extensively about how to approach the gap year secondary as well as the types of gap year activities that impress medical schools.

Other than trying to highlight activities that align with CHSU COM’s mission and admissions criteria, you should just be honest about what you plan to do. It’s okay if it’s only a plan at this point.

This prompt is merely looking for an explanation as to why you didn’t apply during your final year of undergrad, or why you had extensive time off during college. If that’s the case for you, just give a quick report of how you’ve spent this gap year or time off. Without overstating your weaknesses, take a moment to justify your decision and highlight all the valuable experience you’ve gained as a result.

If you have a lot of small experiences during the gap, then present them as a catalogue to show your wide exposure in a short amount of time. If you’ve put most of your energy into one activity or experience, then dive deep into all the responsibility and commitment it required.  

Are you building off your past work on a significant project? Are you seeking further exposure that aligns with your past experience? Are you participating in a novel experience that will offer you insights into a new facet of healthcare? Are you pursuing travel or stimulating hobbies that you didn’t have as much time for as an undergrad?

The goal is to show schools that you’re using the time before matriculation to enrich yourself and prepare for the path ahead.


***We will update this post when the secondary essays are officially released.

Everyone who meets the school’s minimum initial requirements will receive an email with a login and instructions on how to complete the supplemental application.

According to the school’s website, the supplemental “will include an essay and other questions that may assess the applicant’s knowledge of CHSU COM’s mission and values, as well as their knowledge on topics related to healthcare.”

The “essay” mentioned will likely be a Why Our School essay or an essay about your ties to the Central Valley.

If you face these prompts, we highly recommend checking out CHSU COM’s handy PDF which directly spells out how you can align yourself with the school.

The “other questions” mentioned will likely test your exposure to the challenges of the underserved, or ask your opinion on how to improve healthcare systems or delivery.

We’ve covered that first question in our guide to UC Riverside’s secondaries (check out our advice on prompt #3). In short, it’s more impressive to medical schools when you’ve helped people who are much different than yourself. Think about the times you stepped out of comfort zones, encountered new types of people, or gained unusual insight or access. Hopefully one situation can capture your overall understanding and preparedness for underserved advocacy.

For questions about the state of healthcare, we’ve written a post about using micro answers for macro healthcare questions and a guide for answering ethical secondaries. Both of these can inform your approach for those daunting hypothetical and big-picture questions.

As a final note, CHSU COM is a school that requires the CASPer test. We’ve published all the test dates for 2019 and several articles on how to prepare and practice.

Stay tuned for updates. Let us know if you have questions in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you soon!

Good luck with your application to CHSU COM!

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